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That said, my top NYC comedy recommendations for March 2018 (with more to come soon) include:
Wednesday 3/21: Stellar comics Mike Birbiglia, Dave Hill, Jo Firestone, Michelle Buteau, Christian Finnegan, and host Seth Herzog, plus Tony winner Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), perform stand-up and/or music to raise funds for organizations pushing for gun control: Never Again: A Night to Benefit Stoneman Douglas High School (7:30 pm, $25, The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Wednesday 3/21-Sunday 3/25: Today kicks off a 5-day festival featuring over 150 improv shows at all three of The PIT’s theatres: The Seventh Annual NYC Improv Festival ($10 per show, or $30 for an all-you-can-see festival pass, at The PIT Mainstage, Underground, and Loft theatres)
Wednesday 3/21: Gina Yashere (above; correspondent for The Daily Show; HBO’s Crashing, Jay Leno, Chelsea Lately, @midnight, Showtime 1-hour special Skinny Bitch), TV & movie star Janeane Garofalo, Harris Stanton (SNL, BET; opened for Tracey Morgan), Mike Britt (Comedy Central), and more perform stand-up for this show raising funds for cooperation: Comedy Co-Op (7:30 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Wednesday 3/21: In this superb solo show, Mindy Raf (VH1, College Humor; author of YA novel The Symptoms of My Insanity; singer/songwriter alter ego Leibya Rogers) weaves a complex tapestry from her past relationships, anxieties, arcane bits of knowledge (e.g., she explains how the dark Web can record you while you’re masturbating), and sexual preferences (which include being bi and polyamorous) that’s thoroughly compelling. At the same time, Mindy delivers a performance so intimate and in-the-moment that it almost feels as if she’s revealing herself spontaneously. Along similar lines, when anything unexpected happens (such as an audience member snapping fingers to a background song, or another audience member getting up and crossing the stage at a delicate moment to go to the bathroom), Mindy is lightning-quick in providing a response so spot-on that it couldn’t have been better if she’d planned it. I recommend taking advantage of this brief revival of a wonderful show Mindy has previously performed Off-Broadway and at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Not the One: A Love Story (7:30 pm; $20, Theaterlab at 357 West 36th Street off Ninth Avenue)
Wednesday 3/21: A music-backed stand-up show that features a live band providing musical accompaniment to jokes, with comics Sasheer Zamata (cast member for three seasons of Saturday Night Live; Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, Amazon’s Transparent, TBS’ People of Earth), Alison Leiby (writer for The President Show; VICE, Triumph The Insult Comic Dog; host of It’s a Long Story), Dina Hashem (Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, Seeso’s Night Train), Ryan Beck (Comedy Central, MTV), Farah Brook (Reductress, Someecards; viral video Kiss Me NYC), Kenice Mobley (host of Person About Town podcast), and Jake Head (host of Razzle Dazzle) hosted by Yedoye Travis: Rent Party (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Wednesday 3/21: Mike Drucker (hilarious stand-up and staff writer for The President Show; previously wrote for Jimmy Fallon, SNL, Bill Nye Saves the World, The Onion, McSweeney’s), Christi Chiello (Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, MTV’s Girl Code, TruTV, stellar solo show It’s Christi, B*tch!, co-host of Battle of the Divas and White Chocolate), Chloé Hilliard, Nate Craig, Ryan Reiss, and Reena Calm perform stand-up for this free weekly LES show produced by Luisa Díez, and hosted by Samantha Ruddy, Luke Touma, JP McDade, Jordan Temple, and/or Dina Hashem: Too Many Cooks (9:00 pm, Free!, Lucky Jack’s Pub at 129 Orchard Street between Rivington & Delancey Streets)
Thursday 3/22-Sunday 3/25: Nikki Glaser (host of You Up on SiriusXM Comedy Central Radio; star of former Comedy Central series Not Safe; film Trainwreck; hour-long special Perfect; Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Half Hour, Inside Amy Schumer, @midnight; NBC’s America Ninja Warrior: Celebrity Edition; podcast You Had to Be There) headlines Thursday through Sunday at Carolines: Nikki Glaser (7:30 pm Thursday and Sunday, 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm Friday & Saturday; $35 plus 2-drink min.; Carolines Comedy Club at 1626 Broadway)
Friday 3/23: Delightful stellar improvisors Dana Shulman & Adrian Sexton play Clairee Belcher & Ouiser Boudreaux, the sassy supporting characters from 1989 film Steel Magnolias about charming but tough Southern women. In this show, they’re “fresh graduates from the one-day improv workshop at The Chinquapin Parish Senior Center and are ready to show you everything they’ve learned at the NYC Improv Festival. You’ll be enchanted by their improvisation skills, their witty banter, and their ability to make grown men cry. If you’re lucky, they might give you their signature offer, ‘Come and sit by me, Ouiser and Clairee:'” Ouiser and Clairee Go to an Improv Festival (7:00 pm, $10, The PIT Loft at 154 West 29th Street; part of the Seventh Annual NYC Improv Festival)
Saturday 3/24: Emma Carmichael (above left; former Editor-in-Chief of Jezebel), Ashley Brooke Roberts (above right; energetic, enormously likeable stand-up, sketch comic and actress; stellar co-host of Fresh Out and Camp; former writer for Nat Geo Explorer and MTV’s Guy Code; UCB Maude sketch groups The Prom and Absolutely),and Celisse Henderson (singer/songwriter/musician; recently performed with Ke$ha at the Grammys) sing or tell jokes, then enthusiastically endorse some product they love…which will be handed out to lucky members of the audience! Hosted by the wonderful Chris Duffy (staff writer for NatGeo Explorer, host of You’re the Expert), who makes this promise for one audience member per show: You Get A Spoon (4:00 pm, $10, LES’ Caveat at 21-A Clinton Street; take F/J/M/Z subway to Delancey Street/Essex Street)
Saturday 3/24: Aparna Nancherla (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; co-star of HBO’s Crashing and 2 Dope Queens, Netflix’s Master of None and The Standups, and Comedy Central’s Corporate; former writer for Seth Meyers; Conan O’Brien, @Midnight, Comedy Central Half Hour, comedy album Just Putting It Out There), Django Gold (writer for Stephen Colbert; The New Yorker, The Onion), Ziwe Fumudoh (writer for The Rundown with Robin Thede), Milly Tamarez (The Story Pirates; co-creator of the Diverse as Fuck Festival), and Eudora Peterson (visiting from New Jersey) perform stand-up hosted by Ethan Beach (MTV) & Josh Nasser (The Story Pirates): Oh, Such a Good Show, Oh (7:30 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 3/24: Seven comics—tonight including Rob Haze (Jimmy Fallon; from Alanta) and Kimberly Dinaro Massachusetts (Reductress; from Massachusetts)—tell stories of where they originally came from (ranging from Memphis to Columbia) and the journey that led them to NYC, all performing at Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell (27-16 23rd Avenue) hosted by the charming Katie Boyle (above; from Ireland): Transplants (7:30 pm, $10, Astoria Queens’ QED: A Place to Show & Tell at 27-16 23rd Avenue)
Saturday 3/24: Eight performers from the Ten Bones Theatre Company attempt to recreate the 1996 Michael Jordan & Looney Tunes cinematic collaboration Space Jam, with each comic using only what he or she can remember from seeing the movie just once. To add to the fun are a few rules: “Performers must incorporate lines written by the audience; performers must incorporate any sound effect played by the tech booth; one lucky audience member will be given a bell that they can ring three times—once rung, the actors must create a scene that has no business being in Space Jam but makes perfect sense given where they are in the story:”Space Jam…Entirely From Memory (8:00 pm, $10, The PIT Mainstage (Striker) at 123 East 24th Street; part of the Seventh Annual NYC Improv Festival)
Sunday 3/25: David Cross (comedy legend; Mr. Show, Arrested Development, Modern Family) tries out new stand-up material in Brooklyn tonight, and also on 3/29: David Cross: Still Shooting the Shit, Still Seeing What Sticks (8:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Sunday 3/25: Comics perform for the approval of a panel of moms and dads in Parental Approval; and then comics randomly paired into duos (e.g., a stand-up with an improvsior) compete for your laughs in The Lethal Lottery, with tonight’s twosomes Clare O’Kane & Sandy Honig, Sydnee Washington & Wes Haney, Stavros Halkias & Nathan Min, and Sonia Denis & Sarah Lazarus, all hosted by Brett Davis (HBO, TruTv, Manhattan cable TV show The Special Without Brett Davis; winner of the 2015 Andy Kaufman Award) & Colin Burgess (host of Strangers and Late Mic): Double Feature Comedy: Parental Approval and The Lethal Lottery (8:00 pm, Free!, Brooklyn’s Alphaville at 140 Wilson Avenue; take L subway to Jefferson Street)
Sunday 3/25: In a parody of comedy roasts, comics roast vegetables. Can Mitra Jouhari, Danny Groh, Eliza Cossio, Halcyon Person, Jason Gilbert, Meaghan Strickland, and Tommy McNamara stretch this one-joke idea into a fun hour? You won’t know unless you join them and host Zach Zimmerman for The Roast of Vegetables (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 3/26: Stellar comics and game nerds Anthony Atamanuik, Josh Gondelman, Alison Leiby, Mitra Jouhari, Ziwe Fumudoh, Mike Brown, and Dan Ryckert play and make merciless fun of some of the worst video games of all time (e.g., Shaq-Fu) hosted by Mike Drucker (hilarious stand-up and staff writer for The President Show; previously wrote for Jimmy Fallon, SNL, Bill Nye Saves the World, The Onion, McSweeney’s): Shit Arcade (9:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Monday 3/26: Lena Hall (Tony Award winner and Grammy nominee as Yitzhak in 2014 Broadway revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch; Nicola in Broadway’s Kinky Boots; lead singer of rock band The Deafening) is the guest of this NPR comedy trivia show taped live in Brooklyn and hosted by the wonderful Ophira Eisenberg (NBC’s The Today Show, CBS’ The Late Late Show, Comedy Central, VH1, Showtime, bestselling book Screw Everyone, comedy album Bangs!): Ask Me Another (7:30 pm, $25, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Monday 3/26: Adira Amram and The Experience (Adira, above middle, is a spectacular comedic writer, singer, and dancer; HBO, Funny or Die; album Hot Jams for Teens; co-host of Ophira & Adira), Giulia Rozzi (Comedy Central’s This Is Not Happening and The Jim Gaffigan Show, Chelsea Lately, writer for MTV’s Girl Code, VH1, TruTV, Playgirl Magazine, host of First Set, comedy album True Love), and more perform for this weekly Brooklyn stand-up show hosted by Jo Firestone (staff writer for Jimmy Fallon, co-author of #1 bestselling Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers), Aparna Nancherla (co-star of HBO’s Crashing, Netflix’s Master of None, and Comedy Central’s Corporate), and Maeve Higgins (Maeve in America, co-host of Nat Geo’s Star Talk): Butterboy with Jo, Aparna, and Maeve (8:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Tuesday 3/27: UK comic James Acaster is famed for the delightful one-hour solo comedy shows he’s developed over the years for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Today Netflix releases filmed versions of the four productions, titled Recognize, Represent, Reset, and Recap, packaged under the umbrella titled of Repertoire. Stream and enjoy: James Acaster: Repertoire
Tuesday 3/27: Mike Birbiglia (writer/director/star of feature films Don’t Think Twice and Sleepwalk with Me; actor in numerous films and TV shows, including Trainwreck, Inside Amy Schumer, and Orange is the New Black; multiple appearances on David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, etc.; three Comedy Central specials; comedy CDs Two Drink Mike and My Secret Public Journal—Live), Hari Kondabolu (David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central Presents, @midnight; former writer & correspondent for FX’s Totally Biased), Cipha Sounds (Chappelle’s Show, MTV, Hot 97), Eudora Peterson (Jezebel, Huffington Post), and more perform stand-up for this show by The Comedy Resistance, “a nonprofit headlined by comedians, run by professionals with decades of experience in talent and campaign management, and fueled by anyone who wants to make an impact in our country by getting out the vote and boosting activism. Laugh, learn, and resist:” An Evening with The Comedy Resistance: Mike Birbiglia, Hari Kondabolu, and More (7:30 pm, $40, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Wednesday 3/28: Fifty comics tell dick jokes for this show raising money to support gun control, featuring Jo Firestone, Josh Gondelman, Emmy Blotnick, Roy Wood Jr., Ashley Brooke Roberts, Mike Drucker, Christi Chiello, Clare O’Kane, The Reformed Whores, Janelle James, Kat Radley…and many more, hosted by long-time Daily Show staff writer Matt Koff. Cocks Against Glocks: 50 Comedians Tell Dick Jokes To Benefit Gun Control (8:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Thursday 3/29: David Cross (comedy legend; Mr. Show, Arrested Development, Modern Family) tries out new stand-up material in Brooklyn: David Cross: Still Shooting the Shit, Still Seeing What Sticks (8:00 pm, $15, Brooklyn’s Littlefield at 635 Sackett Street; take R subway to Union Street)
Saturday 3/31: Aparna Nancherla (one of the very finest stand-ups in the country; co-star of HBO’s Crashing and 2 Dope Queens, Netflix’s Master of None and The Standups, and Comedy Central’s Corporate; former writer for Seth Meyers; Conan O’Brien, @Midnight, Comedy Central Half Hour, comedy album Just Putting It Out There), Josh Gondelman (Emmy & Peabody Award-winning writer/producer for HBO’s phenom Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; Conan O’Brien, The New Yorker; stand-up comedy album Physical Whisper), Abbi Crutchfield (Broad City, MTV, VH1, Witstream), and Mamoudou N’Diaye (MTV’s Decoded) perform stand-up for this show that each month raises funds for a different worthy cause—this time it’s The Ali Forney Center—hosted by Mike Brown & Sam Grittner: The Feel Good Show (7:00 pm, $10, Brooklyn’s The Bell House at 149 7th Street; take R subway to 9th Street or F/G to Fourth Avenue)
Saturday 3/31: Hosts Catherine Cohen & Mitra Jouhari “are gals who just don’t get ‘guy stuff.’ They’ve invited comics to give them lectures on guy stuff so that they can finally fit in,” with tonight’s bearers of wisdom Marie Faustin, Lily Marotta, Martin Urbano, Emily Panic, and sketch group Please Don’t Destroy: It’s a Guy Thing (8:00 pm, $8, Brooklyn’s Union Hall at 702 Union Street; take R subway to Union Street)
You can find the vast majority of notable NYC live comedy shows by using the links below to explore the schedules of the following top NYC comedy venues:
Best Inexpensive Stand-Up, Improv, Sketch, and Storytelling
Upright Citizens Brigade Hell’s Kitchen
555 West 42nd Street; 152-seater; one of the most respected comedy showcases in the world; especially strong on improv, sketch, solo shows, and one-act comedic plays; shows free-$12
Upright Citizens Brigade East
153 East 3rd Street; 99-seater; a top comedy venue that focuses more than sister theatre UCB Hell’s Kitchen on stand-up and screenings, and on experimental shows taking big risks; shows free-$12
The PIT Striker (Upstairs) Theatre
123 East 24th Street; 88-seater; a top venue that’s a powerful rival of UCB, and often surpasses UCB when blending comedy with music and/or theatricality; shows free-$20
The PIT Loft
154 West 29th Street; 50-seater; the third of The PIT theatres, located separately on the West side, hosts a wide range of comedy, but is especially effective as a home for intimate solo and/or theatrical shows; free-$20
Best NYC Stand-Up Comedy Clubs
NYC Stand-Up Open Mics & Improv Jams
If you want stage time, you can find one or more stand-up open mics virtually any night at Manhattan’s The PIT, Eastville Comedy Club, and Stand Up NY Comedy Club, and at Queens LIC’s The Creek and Astoria Queens’ QED.
In addition, at the East Village’s UCB East you can typically find a stand-up open mic Thursdays at 6:00 pm, an improv jam Wednesdays at 11:15 pm, and a rare bring-your-own-group improv/sketch open stage Sundays at 11:00 pm. And in Chelsea, The Magnet offers an improv jam on Wednesdays at 6:00 pm, and a rare musical improv jam on Tuesdays at 6:00 pm.
All of the venues above typically provide you the stage time either for free or for $5.
There are also numerous other open mics throughout the city. For a more comprehensive list, please visit FreeMicsNYC.
From legendary NYC comedy site Brooklyn Vegan: Thank God for Hy Bender’s religiously updated show bible Best New York Comedy (and HyReviews.com). He is literally the only person in NYC providing daily summaries of what’s happening comedy-wise. It must be exhausting keeping that monster of a website alive. It is your daily comedy itinerary and it scares me how on top of his shit this guy is.
Please feel encouraged to reach out to tell me about comedy shows, provide feedback on my cross-genre short story anthology Ghosts on Drugs, hire me to develop your book or screenplay (please visit BookProposal.net or HyOnYourScript.com), or for any other reason by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.